* * * * *
June 30, 2005:
Today was an anniversary ride. It didn't start out that way, but that's how it ended up. I went for a regular morning ride, and did the twisties on White Oak. I then noticed that, with a little more riding, I could celebrate 400 miles on the Rebel. So off I went.
I headed down Heights to 11th, and over to TC Jester. I did the twisties on TC and then took the Loop 610 Feeder to south on Durham. Next I headed eastbound on 19th street. As near as I can figure I was right outside my favorite ice cream parlor, Cricket's Creamery, when I hit mile 400. I tooted my horn twice in celebration, but they weren't open yet. Did startle a small dog, though.
I then headed home on Heights, took 11th to Beverly, and on back to the garage. It was a good ride, with no incidents to report. Happy 400 to me.
* * * * *
June 29, 2005:
Another early morning ride. Still cool out. Very pleasant ride. I took the backroads down 6th to Shepard, then over to Heights and back on 11th and Beverly. No incidents. Six mile ride.
June 28, 2005:
I took a short ride early this morning. Rode about 6 miles. Mostly at 35 mph or above. Weather was cool. No incidents. Nice ride.
June 27, 2005:
Got in a quick ride this morning. Looped over to the twisties on White Oak. Nice ride. No close calls, or any calls, for that matter. Still cool out in the morning. Little traffic. Rode 5 miles.
June 26, 2005:
Today I took the back roads off 6th Street, over to Shepard, then to TC Jester. I did the twisties on TC Jester until I came to the feeder road for Loop 610. Just before I got there the bike started sputtering. I let it sputter for a time or two and then reached down and switched to the reserve tank. The sputtering stopped almost instantly. This makes twice now I have switched to reserve while under speed. No big deal. Glad I wasn't in a turn though.
For whatever reason, as I approached the feeder road, I decided to get up on the freeway. I could see that traffic was very light at this time of the day, and the move just seemed right.
I entered the freeway and powered it up. I had checked the tire pressure yesterday, so I was confident that they were properly inflated. I practiced doing head checks at 65 mph*, and the wind wasn't too bad. I thought about doing lane changes at that speed, something I have yet to do. However, I changed my mind and decided to see how fast the Rebel could go. I twisted the throttle, and the speedometer started climbing. When I came to the end of the play on the throttle ("the pedal to the metal") I was doing 74 mph*. I don't know if it would have gone any faster because I came to a hill on 610 and the speed dropped back to about 71 mph*. And then I was at my exit. So, for now, the bike tops out at 74 mph. That is with a empty main tank and little wind.
I felt very comfortable at this speed. The tension I felt on my first freeway trip is gone. Probably because the bike is much more stable when the tires are properly inflated.
I decided to go get some gas, which I did. Filling the tank while wearing leather gloves is still an adventure. I managed to avoid sloshing gas on the tank. And I even remembered to switch the gas valve from reserve to main tank.
One other thing: I had my first sneeze while wearing a full face helmet. My advise is to raise the shield when you feel the sneeze coming on. Mine was a "dry" sneeze, if you know what I mean, and a single sneeze at that. I don't relish the thought of multiple "wet" sneezes with the shield down. Trust me on this: when you think you may sneeze, raise the shield!
All in all, a fun ride, and a feeling of accomplishment at having topped out the bike's speed.
June 25, 2005:
I went for an early morning ride. I was traveling through a pleasant section of the Heights when I realized, too late, that there was a stop sign for my direction of travel. Not sure why I didn't see it earlier. I decided I did not to practice a full-fledged emergency stop since I had already checked for cross traffic, and no other vehicle was in sight. It was a four-way stop, and no damage done, except to the pride. Just goes to show you that you must be ever alert when riding a motorcycle. Mistakes tend to be much more severe on a bike. Otherwise, the ride was a great eight miles. I turned the odometer over to 302 miles. However, I really have 370 on the bike, because I figure I put 70 miles on it while the speedometer was out of commission.
June 24, 2005:
Today I took rode my bike to Stubbs Cycles to get the speedometer cable replaced. It was about 8:50 am when I pulled out of the driveway. Traffic was the heaviest I have driven in. I was at ease with the other cars, but it is weird to have a several thousand pound hunks of metal just a few feet from you, and have to hope the driver is paying attention, even while you have to act as if he is not.
Anyway, the ride to Stubbs was without incident. When I got to Stubbs there was a new guy in the parts department. Totally helpful. I told him the problem and he got me in and out of there really fast. Very professional.
And another piece of good news: The parts guy told me the drive was not broken, so I could get my money back on that part. We're talking $60+ for the part. This is proof that Stubbs runs an honest repair shop, because there was no way I could know if I needed the part other than what they told me. Good job, Stubbs Cycles.
The ride home had one incident. On the last leg of the trip I was going down Memorial at 55 mph or so. There are some gentle curves on Memorial, and I allowed myself to drift a little during one of them. Not out of my lane, but into a rut created where the seams of the road were (supposed to be) put together. Mostly, the seam is filled with asphalt. But not everywhere. All of a sudden, I am traveling at 55 mph* and my front tire is in a grove. Stuck fast. Scary. Fortunately, I had either read about this type of problem or we had discussed it during the Rider's Edge course. So I knew (in my head) what to do. Shame on me for getting in the gap. Praise for me in not trying to steer out, but letting the bike have its head until the bike came out of the grove on its own. Because I had "thought" about this problem before it happened, my blood pressure remained normal, and panic did not set in. It proved to me that reading as much about motorcycle riding as you can will help you out when disaster strikes.
I put 22 miles on the bike today.
June 23, 2005:
I had to go to a legal seminar this morning, so I had to put off my ride until after work. It was hot when I got home. Probably in the 90's. But even with the protective gear, the ride was fine. I am constantly relieved that the mesh gear is so comfortable, even in the heat. I did a loop and ended up on the twisties on White Oak. The only "incident" involving the bike was when an impatient pick up truck driver passed me on the right. I saw it coming, so I just eased a little bit into the center of the road, and let him pass. I think I was at least going the speed limit, but that didn't matter to this driver (and I had no working speedometer to tell me for sure). At another point during the ride, while stopped at a red light, I saw a car traveling in the right-hand lane of a four lane street decide to turn left. And he did so right in front of oncoming traffic. Much blaring of horns, but no contact. Good grief. Otherwise, a nice five mile ride.
I plan to take my bike in to Stubbs tomorrow morning. The Parts Department called today to say the parts I had ordered on Saturday were in. I had the call transferred to Service and they said there would be no problem in getting the speedometer cable replaced. There was a new guy in Service, and he was very professional. Let's hope all goes well--and quickly.
* * * * *
June 22, 2005:
I went for another morning ride today. We still have low humidity and riding around 6 am is a joy. I did a loop that ended up at the twisties on White Oak. I am still not tired of that run. The ride was without incident, and about 7 miles long.
* * * * *
June 21, 2005:
Today marks thirty days that I've had my motorcycle. And I've only missed one day of riding. And that was because I was out of town. It is also the first day of summer. Decently cool, and low humidity. Made for a fine ride this morning. I did the loop that ended up at the twisties on White Oak. Unfortunately, a car was ahead of me, and that kept my speed down. I still don't have a working speedometer, but it felt like we were going 20 tp 25 mph. I kept the recommended two second interval between us, but it felt like I was holding back a horse that wants to race.
As we rounded a corner the car came to a stop. I could see around the curve, and there was no reason to stop. In other words, I wasn't expecting the car to stop. Fortunately, I was able to get stopped also. And why was the car stopped? He had decided to turn into a parking lot for a baaseball field. Probably to go jogging. I didn't stick around to find out.
Lesson learned: If a car is going too slowly, there is probably a problem. Houston drivers don't go for many leisurely drives. Be alert. Be prepared for a stop. And keep that two second interval between you and the car. No tailgating.
Otherwise, the ride was very a very pleasant 5 mile trek.
* * * * *
June 20, 2005:
I had a cool ride this morning. The temperature dropped into the low 70's and the humidity was a little lower than normal. Perfect riding weather. I went early because I have a full day. It was pre-dawn. Most cars still had their headlights on. Makes it easier to spot them. I did the twisties on White Oak. Nothing special to report. Just a pleasant 5 miles before work.
* * * * *
June 19, 2005:
I went for a ride this morning, while it was cool. Our temperatures are getting into the 90's, so morning rides are nice. Plus, by riding in the morning, I am sure to get in some saddle time. I figure I got in about seven miles of city riding.
I didn't have a "destination" in mind for this ride. Just to be on two wheels, with the wind in my vents. Not much to report on the ride. I did face a loose mongrel on the road. I guess my motorcycle outfit put the fear of dog into him, because he did not chase the motorcycle. I was ready for a chase, and prepared to accelerate away from him at the last minute, just like I had read. But no chase in this dog. It is nice to face so many problems for the first time when they are still "academic."
The only other thing I did this morning was to actually use the bike for something "practical." Let me make it clear: motorcycles are not about being practical. There is little practical about them. And I don't ride to be "practical." I ride to be cool. And because it's fun. And as a statement about me. But back to this morning. I decided to stop by the post office and pick up the mail. I checked the box and we had seven letters/magazines/ads. I counted them twice. Then I stuffed them in my jacket, rode home by the most direct route, and counted them again upon arrival. All still there. Mission accomplished.
I've got to get saddlebags, or something that lets me carry stuff while on the bike. More later.
* * * * *
June 18, 2005:
This morning I drove my bike to Stubbs Cycles on Telephone Road to have them repair my speedometer. I was prepared to leave the bike with them until Tuesday or Wednesday. I figured they could order the part, get it in Tuesday and fix the bike that day or the next.
Boy was I wrong. Motorcycle repairs are nothing like car repairs.
First, some background: Last week I was showing my bike to a friend. It was in my garage. I had opened the garage door, but I decided a little more light was needed for a true appreciation of the bike. I hopped on and began to duck-walk the bike forward. I was going under one mph. Nonetheless, when the disk brake lock (which I forgot to take off) revolved around it stopped at the plastic speedometer housing. After breaking the housing. Ugh. I think I forgot to take the lock off because I didn't have my key, and I wasn't going to ride the bike. So, in my mind, the brake lock was not a problem. Wrong.
Anyway, back to Stubbs. I parked the bike outside a bay label "Service" and walked into the showroom. Toward the back I spied a big sign that said "Parts and Service." Two guys were behind the counter. I walked up and told them I had broken the speedometer cable. One of them proceeded to start punching keys on the computer. When I mentioned that I wanted them to do an oil change at the same time, the typing stopped. I was told that although the sign said "Parts and Service," in fact, they only handled parts. And if I wanted service (like an oil change) I needed to go to the service department. They pointed to a sign that said "Service."
Off I went. I pushed through the door and walked up to the service counter. I told the guy behind the counter that I had broken my speedometer cable and I needed it fixed. He told me to go to parts and tell them. I said they had sent me to service. He wondered why. He began punching the keys on his computer to see if they had the parts in stock. He said they would have to order the parts. I said I figured that, and that I would leave the bike. He said didn't I want to ride the bike all weekend. I told him that I had plenty to do, and I figured I would pick the bike up Tuesday or Wednesday.
The parts guy told me that it would be longer than that. It often took 7 to 10 days to get in parts, and sometimes a month. Understand that I bought a brand new Honda Rebel. Not some used bike for which parts hadn't been made in years.
I was miffed. I told him I was surprised that Honda was so unreliable with regard to how long it took to get parts in. (I guess they had never heard of FedEx.)
The service guy wanted to go look at my bike. We went. I showed him the broken plastic housing for the speedometer cable. He was not sympathetic about how easily it had broken. He asked me how I had broken it, and when I told him I was walking the bike, he asked me why was I doing that. I fought back the tempetation to tell him it was none of his business.
We went back inside and he began writing up the various parts needed to fix the damage. Round it off to $100 by the time he finished.
I asked him how long the repair would take. He estimated under an hour. I told him to call me when the parts were in and I would bring the bike in and wait for it.
He gave me another exasperated look and told me there was no way parts could keep and order open for ten days. He said that if I wanted to keep the bike (remember this is what he had originally suggested) I had to go back to Parts and Service and order the parts through them. He kindly gave me the list of parts and off I went to Parts and Service. I was getting a lot of practive muttering under my breath by this point.
Parts and Service happily took my order. Then even showed me the computer picture of the speedometer cable and associated parts, complete with parts numbers. I told them that when I returned I wanted an oil and filter change also, and that I assumed that they had the oil filters in stock and would not have to order them. "Let me check," was the reply. Guess what? There is no oil filter on a Honda Rebel. There is an oil screen, but no filter. Surprise, surprise.
Anyway, we completed the transaction, with my paying for the parts in advance. I guess Stubbs has no stroke with Honda so they can't order the parts before they are paid for. Whatever.
While I was there I decided to ask for the two license plate screws that Stubbs had negelected to give me when I picked up my metal plate. That way, all for of the screw heads would match. Instead, they gave me two nifty fasteners that are red reflectors. Really neat. And they gave them to me for free. All was not lost.
So I rode back home, still with no speedometer. I spotted a cop a block ahead of me in downtown. I watched my speed (by feel). The cop pulled over for no reason. At least I hoped it was for no reason. I was tempted to turn off the street I was on, but because I was in the middle lane, I threw caution to the wind and drove past him. Holding my breath. But no flashing lights appeared.
Nothing really to report about the ride to Stubbs and back. Both legs of the trip occurred without incident. Which is as it should be. I figure I logged twenty miles today. More to come.
* * * * *
June 17, 2005:
I made sure I got in a ride this morning. I plan to take the bike in to Stubbs tomorrow morning over the speedometer cable and I'm not sure when I will get it back. So I decide to do the twisties on White Oak, even without a speedometer. Thus, I don't know how fast I took them, but I know it was fun and the ride was good. And it seemed fast.
On the way back home I was going east on 10th, to head southbound on Beverly. I like that route because there is no stop sign for the turn onto Beverly, and the lack of trees makes it easy to see that southbound traffic on Beverly is stopping, or absent. That lets me take the corner at speed. Today I checked the southbound Beverly traffic. There was none. So I entered the turn at a nice clip and was doing fine. All of a sudden there is this giant van in my lane, headed northbound. In other words, the van was in the wrong lane. All the way over in the wrong lane. Instantly, my lane became the "wrong" lane. The van had pulled into my lane because a pedestrian was walking northbound on Beverly. I guess the driver was being courteous. To the pedestrian. I can't say "courtesy" was the thought that crossed my mind.
Fortunately, I was able to swerve to the very edge of my lane, and everyone passed everyone else without touching metal to flesh. What a way to end my last "neighborhood" ride before taking the bike in.
* * * * *
June 16, 2005:
Yesterday I called Stubbs Cycles to ask how long it would take to fix the speedometer cable. The repair guy was not helpful. He would not give an estimate, or even assure me they could fix it without ordering parts. He wasn't sure he had the part in stock, and didn't offer to go look. Maybe I caught him on a bad day. Anyway, I guess I'll take the bike in Saturday morning (and probably have to leave it till the part arrives). Oh well.
This morning I took a short ride. School zones are especially fun when you don't have a speedometer. I'm not that good yet about estimating my speed on a bike. Nothing interesting to report.
* * * * *
June 15, 2005:
Went for a short ride this morning. Immediately I realized my speedometer (and odometer) was not working. A quick look down revealed a cable hanging off the front forks. I'm not sure what happened. I fear I broke the fitting. I was showing the bike to a friend on Tuesday while it was in my garage. I had opened the garage door, but decided to move the bike a little to get better light. I did not have my bike keys with me. But big deal, I was not going to start it anyway. I got on the bike, pushed it forward, and ran right in to the disk lock. Even with the bright orange warning cable, I had forgotten it was still on. Although I had barely moved the bike, I may have broken the speedometer fitting right then. I not certain. When I take the bike in on Saturday I will look at another Rebel to see what I think.
Anyway, this morning's ride was otherwise uneventful. Based on past measurements, I am now up to 270 miles.
* * * * *
June 14, 2005:
I went for a short ride this morning. Did the twisties on White Oak going both westbound and eastbound (and west bound again). Nice, ordinairy ride. 266 miles logged. Still fun.
* * * * *
June 13, 2005:
Lots going on today. I had too many deadlines this morning for a ride. I decided to put the ride off till this afternoon. The day had many surprises, and I was at work longer than expected. When I got home I decided to go for a 5 mile ride, just to keep my string unbroken.
However, once I got out there I had no trouble doubling the ride. Nothing in particular to report. Just a nice ride. Of course, I drove the twisties on White Oak. Now I have 259+ miles. Glad I throttled up.
* * * * *
June 12, 2005:
Today is Sunday. I had a late night party Saturday night, but Sarah, my dog, who was not invited to the party, woke up at her normal 5:30 am, ready to eat. So I got up and fed her. I entertained some thought of going back to sleep, but that did not happen. I decided to go for an early ride instead. My goal was to pass the 250 mile mark
I took TC Jester again, going on the eastern branch this time. I went north all the way to the end of TC Jester, back to Memorial, and through the park. A nice long ride. Hardly anyone was out, except for the runners in Memorial Park.
This ride went great. Nothing to report except for a red-light runner. As I was going north on TC Jester, I approached the light at 43rd Street, I think. I was quite a ways from the intersection, and I begin calculating if I could cross before the light turned yellow. So my light had been green for some time.
When I was still about ten car lengths from the intersection, with cars ahead of me going through the intersection, an eastbound van proceeded through the intersection, running its red light. It was traveling at a high speed, and I am sure the driver never even noticed his light was red. This was not a close call for me, but it did remind me that you cannot even depend on a green light when you are riding a bike. As the sign says, Be Alert. We need more lerts.
I have now logged in 253 miles.
* * * * *
June 11, 2005:
My morning ride today featured a couple of milestones. First, I went for my first "long" ride. Twenty-five miles. I've now logged in 226 miles.
I started out about 6:45 am. I tackled the twisties on TC Jester. Got on at 11th and rode it all the way till it narrowed down to one lane each way. U-turned and headed back to I-10. Somehow I ended up on Hempstead Highway. Not sure how. Unfamiliar streets were the rule for this ride. I was especially alert for road debris, sand and potholes.
Second milestone: When I got to the intersection of I-10 and TC Jester I turned left. The feeder automatically feeds into the interstate. I had earlier checked the air pressure in both tires. The front was fine at 29 psi. The back needed a pound, which I added. So the air pressure issue from my first ride on the freeway was not a factor. Besides, I had no choice. I had to get on. There was no feeder, and no way to exit. And I was feeling pretty good because of the great ride so far. So "on" I went.
I practiced doing head checks at 65 mph. Doable, and necessary, but not the easy thing they are at 35 mph.
Traffic was medium, even at 8 am. I decided to see how fast the Rebel would go. Got it up to 70 mph* pretty easily. It does take a lot of throttle. You have to move your wrist a couple of times. Can't just keep a constant grip and twist in one motion.
Because of the heavy traffic, I was unable to get an extended clear shot to get it up past 70 mph. I understand the Rebel tops out at 75 mph, but I still don't know that.
I was much more at ease on the freeway this time. The bike did not wobble at high speed. I think I could have gone quite some time at 70 mph* with no problems. Quick lane changes might be another problem! Anyway, my worries about how the Rebel can perform on freeways are ended. My concerns about how I can perform on freeways remain. I guess it is just like slow speeds. Practice gives confidence.
The ride this morning was uneventful. The only weird thing worth reporting is that I lost my disk brake during the ride. I had fastened it to its case and used the velcro flap to hook it through the grab band on the passenger seat. As I was going down 11th I felt it slip out of the case, which was against my butt. I immediately pulled off 11th, u-turned, and started looking for it.
As I was working my way back on 11th, some day workers waved at me. One had the disk lock. I worked my way over to them and picked it up. I put it in my jacket pocket for the rest of the trip. Lesson learned.
As I turned on the computer this morning and checked my email I got yet another email from a friend who questioned my sanity for buying a bike. And this person had a close friend killed on a motorcycle. So far, the comments are running about 4 to l for getting rid of the bike.
I am by nature a very cautious person. I take risks, but only after extensive calculation of the odds. Riding a motorcycle does seem out of character on that point. However, I have read several books on safe driving techniques, taken the MSF course for new riders, practice what I learned and wear protective gear, with armor. For now, I am still firm in my belief that I want to ride. Thank Jefferson, Madison and Adams that I live in a country where I still get to make that decision for myself.
Happy riding. Happy reading.
* * * * *
June 10, 2005:
I went for a ride this morning with a single goal in mind. I wanted to put over 200 miles on the bike. Not all today. Just so far. Yesterday I had logged 192 miles, so I figured the goal was easy. It was. Just a pleasant ride. Did a wide loop and took the twisties on White Oak. No exciting incidents. No close calls. No rider errors. A good way to celebrate riding the Rebel for over 200 miles. By the way, the "over" part is one mile over. I have now logged 201 miles! But if anyone asks me how many miles I have put on the bike, I will probably just say, "Something over a couple of hundred."
* * * * *
June 9, 2005:
I decided to repeat yesterday's quick ride this morning. I left a little earlier than usual, and traffic was heavier. But the cars weren't the threat today. Today I was almost taken down by a bicyclist. Like on a ten speed.
I was nearing the end of my ride, proceeding north on Heights after turning onto Heights from 6th Street. The school zones were in operation, and traffic was proceeding at 20 mph. I passed a bicyclist who was in the bike lane on Heights. I decided to turn right on 10th because the school zone extended several more blocks up Heights, and 20 mph is no longer any fun.
All of a sudden I noticed I was being tailgated. Not by a car (thank heavens), but by the bicyclist. I shook my head at how near he was to me and clearly heard him say it was easier behind me. He was using me to slipstream!
I was still in the school zone, so I could not accelerate away. Because he was now in the car lane (instead of the bike lane), I decided to go ahead and turn right off of Heights. I turned on my signal and prepared to turn. I guess that because I had slowed down a little the bicyclist decided to pass me. On the right, of course. Just as I did my head check I saw him fly by in the lane I was about to enter so I could turn right. Good grief.
The ride was otherwise uneventful. I've now logged 192 miles.
* * * * *
June 8, 2005:
I got in a quick ride this morning. Nothing exciting to report. I went back to the intersection of 11th and North Main, but no car came up behind me. I drove down Houston to the twisties on White Oak. I am having fun driving that section. I keep finding ways to get in more curves without stop signs.
By the way, no rattle. The extra two bolts on the license plate did the trick. A nice, uneventful, and quiet ride. I've now clocked 187 miles.
* * * * *
June 7, 2005:
Well, the string of "uneventful" rides has ended. Today I went for another ride right after work. I headed eastbound on 11th. There is a stop sign at the intersection with North Main. The streets meet at an extreme angle, about 30 degrees. That makes it hard to see cars on North Main coming toward you. I was stopped as the second vehicle in a string of three at the stop sign. A car was ahead of me. A car was behind me. The front car saw a clearing and took off. As I edged up in first gear so I could take a look at the oncoming traffic, I noted that the car behind me did not expect me to stop at the stop sign, nor did he intend to stop. Because I was watching him in my rear view mirrors, I realized he was going to run into me. I gunned it and just barely got ahead of him. Fortunately, he must have realized at the last second what he was doing because he came to an abrupt stop. I have to give him more credit for not hitting me, because in my panic I gunned the throttle too much and popped the clutch, killing the engine. In other words, my contribution to the excape was minimal. Maybe just enough, but it was not my finest moment.
Now, if he had hit me, the speed would have been under 5 mph. It might have knocked the bike down however. Glad this was another close call.
I went south on Houston Avenue to the twisties on White Oak, then drove to the gas station for my first fill up. I had practiced taking the gas cap off in the driveway so I would be sure I could do it. Getting gas while wearing gloves and protective gear is not the simple thing it is in your car. Even getting to your wallet out is fun. You can see right into the tank of a motorcycle, so I knew when I had filled up. The tank is so shallow that the automatic shutoff doesn't work. I filled the tank slowly so I would not overfill it and get gas all over the bike.
It took 2.5 gallons of gas. I even remembered to switch the reserve tank switch back to the main tank and zero the tripometer.
The rest of the trip was uneventful until I was almost home. Then I started hearing a rattle, which grew increasingly loud. It's hard to pinpoint a sound while wearing a full helmet. It is also hard to look for where the sound is coming while you are balancing a bike and moving. Fortunately, Bill, my neighbor, was out. I asked him to listen as I rode by. At first he thought it was the muffler. No. Next, he thought it might be the chain guard. No. Finally, he decided it was the license plate holder. The dealer had only given me two bolts to put on the plate, although there were four holes. The metal license plate I put on just yesterday was vibrating against the license plate frame.
I made my first bike repair. I found a couple of bolts, lock washers and nuts and added them. Time will tell if that fixes the problem. I think it will.
All in all, a good ride. Now up to 182 miles.
* * * * *
June 6, 2005:
Today I decided to go for an afternoon ride during "rush hour." Left the house at 5:30 pm. Went up Yale to the access road for Loop 610 east to Studewood, then east on 14th to Houston Avenue, and south to the twisties on White Oak. This is a nice set of curves, with only one stop sign. Even at rush hour, I had no traffic to slow me down. I rode to mile 172.
After the ride I realized that there were no exciting events to report. No close calls. No rider mistakes. That in itself is a good thing. I had a good ride, and nothing but a good ride.
When I got back home I put the metal plates on the bike. Sarah helped. I had Maria take some pictures of me in my Draggin' Jeans gear after replacing the paper plate. Check them out under the photo section.
* * * * *
June 5, 2005:
I went for a ride this morning before eight. Nice and cool, even with all my gear on. The Kevlar shirt has an open mesh weave, and lets the air right through. The Vanson Textile Jacket also has mesh, in strategic places, and works very well to let the air flow, even on hot days. Don't put off wearing protective gear on the fear that it will be too hot. As long as you are moving, it is no problem, if you get the mesh stuff. Even the full face helmet is vented, and I raise the visor for long lights.
Back to the ride. It was a fun ride with no close calls. Streets were pretty empty. You really do see the world from a different perspective from the back of a bike. I am still riding around the Heights, but noticing details that have escaped me from within the protective barrier of a car.
The only event of note during the ride was that I ran out of gas. At mile 160. The main fuel tank holds 1.93 gallons (the reserve holds .71) So, doing all the stop and go riding I have done, I got 83 miles per gallon. Not bad. Should improve once I go on longer trips. That means the reserve will last 58 miles.
I knew the tank was due to go dry, but I decided to drive it dry so I could practice switching to the reserve at speed. And I figured it would most likely go dry when I was doing 35 mph or so, which was aa good time for a live test. And that's what happened. I had just turned onto Washington Avenue from Studemont when I felt the bike begin to sputter. Figured it was the gas. Reached down, just like I had practiced, and switched to reserve. The effect wasn't immediate, probably because I had let it sputter a little longer than necessary just to be sure it was the gas going dry. So when I switched to reserve it took a second or two for the reserve gas to kick in. No real problem. And probably no problem at all next time, because I will be sure it is the tank going dry and switch to reserve all the faster.
Now up to mile 162. No signs of boredom.
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June 4, 2005:
Today I decided to ride on the freeway. I suited up in my Kevlar shirt, Draggin' Jeans (with knee armor), Vanson Textile Jacket (with elbow and shoulder armor), boots, gloves and full face helmet. As someone said, dress for the crash, not the ride.
I entered Interstate 10 at the Studemont/Heights entry for westbound traffic and rode to the TC Jester exit. Got it up to 65 mph*. The bike doesn't feel all that stable at that speed. I know I had no problems at 55 mph. It may be the light weight of the bike. Nothing happened, but I just had the sensation that something could. Every movement I made seemed to affect the bike. Even a movement of my head. Hunching down didn't really help. No trouble going 65, but not especially fun.
When I exited at TC Jester, I u-turned and got back up on I 10, headed east. Exited Taylor. Same unsteady feeling. I will check tire inflation before trying it again. After I exited I realized I had not had to change lanes after entering the freeway on either leg. Something else to experience at high speed.
I rode the twisties on White Oak (6th) and had a good time doing that. I then decided to try my luck on Shepherd/Durham. I took Heights/Yale to Loop 610 and rode Shepherd/Durham all the way back to 11th. No problems except a light changed to yellow at the last minute and I had to make a quick stop at 35 mph. Got stopped by the crosswalk, without skidding. I'm getting more and more confident. The training I got at the Rider's Edge class had been a real help. I can't imagine how riders without training manage all the things it takes to ride a bike in Houston traffic.
I'm up to mile 150.
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June 3, 2005:
Today I rode my motorcycle to the office again. I know I can't make a habit of this (lawyers do have to wear suits from time to time), but the newness of the bike makes it fun. Nothing special to report. Which is a good thing. The Draggin' Jeans and Kevlar Shirt I ordered on Tuesday arrived in the mail. Draggin' Jeans have Kevlar patches in the knees and in the butt. They look like regular jeans, so you get some extra protection without making a "fashion statement." The Kevlar shirt is really neat. It is woven Kevelar. Which is naturally yellow. Mine shirt is black. I had to pay twenty extra bucks for the dye used to get it black, but it was well worth it. It looks really cool, and not like protective equipment at all. But it should help with road rash should I need it. I also ordered CE armor for the knees. The armor has velcor attachments and sticks readily to the knees. This gear is impressive. Up to mile 132.
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June 2, 2005:
Today I drove my motorcycle to the office. It was a comfortable, unremarkable ride. I put my files in a back pack and took them to work that way. No problem, since I only had a couple of files.
Upon arrival at the building I chained my bike to a support pillar and put on the disc lock. I then walked into the building with my motorcycle jacket on and my full face helmet in my hand. Hardly anyone said a word. I guess I was invisible.
I had a lunch meeting with Suzie Kornblit, an attorney I have a case with. So I rode the bike over to her office. She's on Mercer, off Alabama. Nice ride. Although it was very hot out, the bike made its own breeze, except for red lights. Of which there seemed a lot. I got so I flipped the face shield up if I had to stop.
Although traffic was heavy on both Kirby and Alabama, no problems presented themselves until I approached Mercer. There is a left-turn lane in the center of Alabama. I entered it and came to a stop for the oncoming traffic to clear. I was watching that traffic, the traffic behind me and the traffic coming toward me on Mercer. When all was clear I made my left-hand turn. I guess I hadn't looked down Mercer far enough. Within about three car lengths of getting on Mercer I was confronted with a huge tree that had fallen across my lane of traffic. It was pretty easy to weave around, but it just goes to show you that you never know what will be in your lane!
On the way back, I was going down Kirby at about 35-40 mph*, with the flow of traffic. Several cars were ahead of me in my lane. Traffic was fairly heavy. I was in the center of my lane. All of a sudden, a 2 x 4 piece of wood appeared in the center of the lane as the car ahead of me passed over it. It was small enough that the cars weren't even slowing down when they passed over the wood. And since it was in the center of the lane, they had no trouble passing over it. I was keeping about three seconds between me and the car ahead of me, so I had time to swerve. But now I see the virtue of the recommendation for riding in one of the edges of the lane instead of the center.
The ride home was uneventful. I'm up to mile 127. Still fun, fun, fun.
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June 1, 2005:
The TV was forcasting heavy storms this morning, to hit about 6:30 am. When we got back from walking the dog it was already 6:05 am. I decided to go for a short ride anyway. Figured I could beat the storm or, if I didn't, that I would be close to the house when it hit. Where better to learn about riding in the rain than in your own neighborhood. Had a nice ride. It was pre-dawn out. I could see without my headlights (which are always on anyway), and did not feel other drivers would have trouble seeing me. No more than usual, anyway.
The ride was uneventful. A good ride. Just as I pulled up in the driveway, as I was taking off my helmet, the rains hit. Great timing. Made it to mile 110.
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*Note to Law Enforcement:
All statements of speeds on various streets are simple estimates, and solely for novelity purposes. Actual speeds vary, but are always lower. I'm sure that legal speed limits are never exceeded, anything in this blog to the contrary nowithstanding.